The Second Professor

Fatigue crowded round. It obscured his vision. He could no longer see the girl. He was no longer sure where she was. She might be moving toward him, or away. He couldn't hear her either. No breathing, no footsteps fading down the hallway.  She might be walking up the aisles now, her hips, trapped in heavy silk gently brushing each row of desks in turn, a gentle swishing sound which only she could hear. Her test paper would be held in one hand. That golden pen in the other.

When he was not so tired, he would watch that stylus. It would weave itself in and out of her fingers, tracing patterns of shadows and sparks across the too accessible flesh of the chest. It never fell into the crevice. He had once been alive enough to care about that, fearing as he did that his eyes would follow it. That was a dangerous game to play, letting a student know that you were interested in them more than academically could ruin a professor's career.

He didn't need that kind of help ruining his career, if he didn't get this experiment in line, and some stunning result out of it in the next month, Dean Fischer would be throwing him out. Strange, it didn't sound so bad now. No more sleepless nights in the lab. No more trying to pull a pack of underachievers through a course they could never hope to understand, just so that he wouldn't look like an incompetent. No more sulphur. That would almost be worth it alone, to not have the eternal scent of rotten eggs drifting about himself.

Although it had been fun watching the English profs down at the lunch room the first day. He had, at that moment, considered switching to biology. He could have done a wonderful thesis on the effects of scent on human pigmentation. He wasn't overly fond of green, however, blue was more his style. Not that baby blue like her top today, but a deep blue, not purple, just very dark blue.

She would look nice in that colour, draped over her shoulders, just hiding enough to make one want to push the cloth aside. Of course, you still wouldn't see anything. She always wore one of those halter bra things. There was a different one for every day of the week.

What was the order. He couldn't remember. Something like black on Monday, then yellow on Tuesday, or was it green, Monday, black, Tuesday, yellow... Where did yellow go. Well, maybe not where, but when. Where was trouble, stay away from that.

How close was she now. Still no way to tell. She could have already left, or she could be walking around the desk right now. If he could see, he would be staring at her skirt. Maybe this darkness was trying to protect him, keep him from getting into trouble. It was his eyes, after all, which were always trying to go places they shouldn't. If he were blind for the rest of his life, he could never get in trouble again. No one would be able to accuse him of anything.

Not like poor MacPherson. He hadn't even realised he was doing it. Was as shocked as the rest of the staff. He had been ogling a female student, and giving her higher grades because of it. Strange how only her classmates seemed to notice it. Well, that was something to be said for this generation. They were observant. Not particularly studious, certainly not dedicated, but observant. Why they could pick up an eye flutter from a hundred feet. MacPherson hadn't stood a chance.

The entire class had seen it. Well, almost the entire class. Actually, it had only been a small group, the ones who were failing the course. They didn't have to spend so much time studying, so they must have had more time to observe than the others.

What if one of them were loitering around in the hallway outside, and saw her walking toward his desk. He could claim that she was asking a question about the test. That would throw them. Had poor MacPherson tried that ploy? Probably. But then, they could hardly accuse him of anything. His eyes were closed now. He was safe, as long as he kept his eyes shut. But what if they opened by accident, and he was looking into her face, and one of them was wandering around in the hall, and happened to glance through the window.

But no, the window couldn't be seen through. He was too far to the left of it, or was he. He still couldn't open his eyes. She might be there. Physics. It had been a long time. Still, index of refraction, normal. He had never been good at mental arithmetic, but using a calculator would mean using his eyes, and they could not be trusted to keep to the display screen.

Some one could see through, he finally decided, then decided that it didn't matter.  He couldn't imagine continuing if his eyes were to actually ogle a student, so whether or not someone saw them, didn't matter. Either way he would have to leave. Then he would be able to sleep.

Where had MacPherson gone? Would he like some company? They could make a colony of men, so that their eyes couldn't wander to any forbidden zones. MacPherson certainly wouldn't tempt his eyes away from their assigned task. Now there was an idea. He could transfer to a boys college, or a university with a really strict dress code. His eyes wouldn't be tempted there.

Of course, that was probably extraneous, as nature had seen fit to render him blind. The darkness would protect him. He could start a movement. Blind men for an ogle-less society. He would be hailed as a champion by woman's rights organisations. No. That would be dangerous. He might be accused of trying to seduce them by pretending to be blind, if some day he regained his vision.

Maybe that was what he could do with the sulphur. It might cure blindness. Possibly, if he were to use the polymer he had... that might work... yes!... It would combine with... No! Better not to try. He might get accused of using his fame to curry sexual favours. Better to remain anonymous than to be thrown in jail.

He could be happy here. With his four lectures a week, as long as he didn't look into the audience he would be safe. But what would happen when he handed out test papers. His eyes might wander away from the page and ogle some poor child.

Who had taught his eyes such filthy habits anyway. Why just three months ago, he couldn't remember having ever tried to ogle anyone. That had been when MacPherson's shame was first announced. Since then, he's been unable to keep his eyes off the cute young freshwomen who sat in his lectures. The worst was this one, who was now probably at his elbow. He had to battle continually to keep his eyes from interpreting what was simply a manner of dress as some sort of invitation to look at the woman's body.

Still, he could not keep her waiting forever, if he did, whispers would start about how long they had spent together after class. Was that why he had delayed acknowledging her presence for so long? Was it a secret desire to keep her there, so that he might defile her creamed skin with his filthy eyes? He couldn't allow those rumours to spread. Even if he didn't really like teaching here that much, it would ruin her reputation. Somehow he managed to force his eyes open.

Sarah leaned over her professor. The man was fast asleep, his face contorting every so often in response to some dream horror or the other. She set the paper on the desk, writing a short note on the top of it regarding her question about the test. She paused for a minute, as if considering, then drew a line which curved down, across and down. She wrote her phone number beneath it, and asked him to call her that night. She straightened, sliding the pen back to its customary place. The man still slept. She turned, walking back to her desk to pick up her backpack, and left the room.

She wasn't there. All of his anxiety had been needless. He could go about the rest of the night without ever having to worry about another woman. He would feel fine tomorrow, after a night with no chance of making an improper advance. A night of relaxation was in order. Marking would do. He pulled the pile of papers over to himself. He had his lecturee's papers on the history of hydrocarbon nomenclature to mark.

Why had he assigned that? It would be an incredibly boring read through, however, it would keep his eyes occupied for five or six hours, assuming none of them had been eager beavers and gone drastically over the seventy page upper limit he set for all historical papers. He picked up the first item on the pile, not really caring to look at it quite yet. Coffee would keep his eyes open. They had a tendency only to open when they could get into mischief. When real work threatened, they seemed to forget how to stay awake.

The professor stumbled up from his chair as if drunk. His body lurching up the stairs to the door. He stopped in front of it.

What if there was a female student out there, alone, wandering the halls. Could he trust his eyes not to assault her. Still, his eyes would disobey him if he stayed, better to risk disobedience in hope of a cure than to wait to be overcome.

The man threw open the door as one might the gates of hell. When no flames were forthcoming, he tossed himself out of the lecture hall.

The halls were empty, good. After most classes, all home studying. The coffee was in the staff lounge, just around the corner. Damn. It was her. He could feel his eyes beginning to look in her direction, they were crawling across the floor. Now they were caressing her shoes, feeling the silky smoothness of her stockings. He raised his hand to prevent their further advance.

He had beaten them. They could not get him into trouble. Still, no need to tempt fate. He did an about face. Something told him that he was a new man. He had conquered the wandering eyes. He was now in control of his life. Sinking into the comfort of his chair, he glanced at the first paper.

His eyes would not betray him in this either. He would stay up all night if he wanted to. Strangely, it seemed as if this paper had already been marked. He looked at a small note scribbled in the upper right corner. It was written in dark blue. Beneath it was a number. He tried to pull his eyes away, they would not go.

The scandal was whispered through the school the next day, the second prof in three months guilty of sexual indiscretion. The old chem prof had apparently been ogling female students, and his conscience finally caught up with him. He was found, dead in his lab, a suicide note telling of his misconduct, and asking the forgiveness of those women he had attacked. Foremost on the list was Sarah Stomes. She was led into a room by a motherly nurse, where a psychiatrist waited to help her deal with the trauma.

The pen glittered in her bodice.

Please link, don't copy.
This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1992